Love Parks week is an annual campaign from KeepBritainTidy.org celebrating parks, green spaces, and the dedicated volunteers and workers that look after them all year round. This year, Love Parks week runs from 28 July to 6 August.
Our urban parks are the visible public front line. A place for all communities to gather, socialise, play, join in with activities and events, or find a quiet space to read or relax. Our urban parks should be safe and secure, encouraging everyone to get outside and find nature.
Yet there are times when lack of good access or a feeling of safety are two areas that discourage users. This is where Westminster City Council’s parks and leisure teams are positively focusing their efforts and projects in some key areas for improvement.
There has been a push nationally to improve open spaces to enable women and girls to feel safe when using our parks and recreation services. Surveys have shown that women and girls are actively avoiding our green spaces having experienced harassment, misogyny and bullying behaviour. Westminster City Council are making it a priority to bring women and girls into the heart of new open space design processes. One, to ensure that infrastructure is welcoming and inviting and two, that there are new dedicated spaces that have been designed for use by women and girls.
At Westbourne Green Open Space we are working with women and girls in the local community, parks designers and Make Space for Women and Girls to bring together a new leisure area for their use. Ideas include an area to hang out designed by teenage girls and outdoor gym equipment facing each other. The journey through the park is also being looked at to see if sightlines can be improved. We are at the early stages in the project designing a consultation to bring women and girls into the heart of the design process.
Westminster City Council has recognised the importance of ensuring inclusive access for all parts of the community. To this end we embed accessibility and inclusivity as two key factors in all our parks and leisure projects with designers required to consider all aspects as part of the design evaluation process.
At Pimlico Gardens we are currently drawing together the communities’ input to improve the gardens infrastructure to create a new community hub area sitting beside the river. Options include a new café, a new viewing platform to the river with ramped access, new play provision, outdoor furniture and new signage. In all areas of the new design inclusive access will be the primary function ensuring all audiences will be able to use the new facilities.